Residents Rights In A Nursing Home

Nursing home residents deserve care, respect and dignity to sustain the quality of life they have remaining. However, a study carried out in 1986 by the Institute of Medicine highlighted the negligence, inadequacy of care and maltreatment that nursing home residents were facing. The study concluded that the resident’s bill of rights was continually infringed upon, necessitating sweeping reforms to be applied as corrective measures1. Most of these reforms became law under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA), which is part of the 1987 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA).

NHRA is considered landmark legislation that continues to ensure that residential nursing home providers and facilities adhere to the law and their residents’ rights are catered to. The following are the established residential rights2

  • The right to be treated with respect, free from abuse or any kind of mistreatment or neglect; 
  • The right to personal space and privacy; 
  • The right to live in a clean and well-maintained accommodation that caters to physical, medical, psychological and communal needs in a timely fashion;
  • The right to be treated in a dignified manner, free from ridicule or bullying; 
  • The right to freely verbalize their wishes; 
  • The right to determine their day-to-day activities;
  • The right to be fully aware of their care plan, and to be notified in advance of any changes to their treatment, care, or status in the nursing home;
  • The right to participate and organize family gatherings, 
  • The right to exercise full control of all aspects of their life; and
  • The right to speak out about grievances without fear of discrimination or reprisal.



1  Martin Klauber and Bernadette Wright. “The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act.” https://www.aarp.org/home-garden/livable-communities/info-2001/the_1987_nursing_home_reform_act.html (Accessed 30th June 2020).


2  U.S Title 42 section 1395i–3; Requirements for, and assuring quality of care in, skilled nursing facilities (U.S. Code § 1395i 3). https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1395i-3 (Accessed 30th June 2020).


3  Nicholas G. Castle “Citations and Compliance with the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987.” Journal of Health & Social Policy, 13:1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11190662/ (Accessed 30th June 2020). 

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